30.05.2014 26 °C
Well dinner last night was an adventure unto itself. We had reservations at Shintori one of the new hot spot sushi restaurants in Shanghai. It was not in our neighbourhood so off we went in a cab. Driving here is similar to other large non-North American cities we have traveled to. Painted lanes and lights are merely a suggestion and horns are a necessity. Fortunately, there is so much traffic you can't go fast enough to be killed but I am always shocked there are not more dents in the cars.
We got dumped off in a very busy area with lots of restaurants and bars. At this point we had no idea where exactly we are (there seems to be less English here than in Beijing on the signs) after a minor meltdown on my part and then through a stroke of luck we managed to find the unmarked, grey warehouse that houses this amazing eatery. A bottle of wine accompanied with a great meal (sashimi on dry ice makes for a very cool effect) was a great farewell to the Orient.
Getting home was much easier (staying at a landmark hotel certainly helps) and we wandered the Bund for a bit with the masses to capture some photos of the amazing lights (I can't fathom the power bill these buildings must incur). One last stop for a couple Cosmos at the legendary jazz club in the Peace Hotel capped off the evening.
This morning our final adventure was to the Oriental Pearl Tower via the "Sightseeing Tunnel of the Bund". Which is essentially a pedestrian tram that crosses underneath the river with a snazzy lightshow. Very odd. Effective means of transport because traffic makes cabs here crazy (clearly no cost benefit analysis though because the tram cars and lights don't add much value and most have cost a fortune).
The Tower is one of 3 high buildings (it is 1,500 ft high with an observation deck at 1,400 ft) you can go up to get a bird's eye view of the city. We were there early to beat the crowds as it turns out this weekend is the Dragon Boat Festival in China thus Monday is a holiday (even the guide books say don't travel in China on a Chinese Holiday). It was really fascinating to see what 4,000 20 story buildings looks like from above and provided a good perspective on the immense size of these cities with 20 mm + people. The glass floor observation area was not a fan favourite with Ger (he wouldn't even step on it) and even as silly as it seemed I had issues walking on the floor myself.
We are back in the hotel to enjoy the final few moments of peace (and Ger went for a quick swim) before venturing out to make the final trek to the airport.
China is very much a country of contrasts for us. A pleasant surprise at how easy it is to travel through, how affordable it is and how clean it is. Relative to other places we have been even the rural and poorer areas of China are well maintained. It is hard to comprehend the massive change this country has undergone in the last decade. Old versus new is everywhere, sophisticated technology and engineering marvels (bridges, highways, dams are all state of the art (again I am not sure the Chinese Government does the same cost/benefit analysis we do at home)) and yet the most primitive farming techniques (so ironic since they are such a large producer of agricultural goods). They have more government (government builds everything here including condos) but less regulations/by-laws than North America (no bike helmet rules, no smoking rules, no pedestrian rules).
A big flux we noticed is the family unit is changing, historically families lived as one unit, grandparents, parents, kids. No longer do the kids want to live with their parents, a very significant change for this culture. And the younger generations want more Western Culture, music, restaurants, bars and especially clothes. They love labels and designer anything (even if the knock-offs are actually made in China).
It was really a fantastic trip we feel like we saw a lot of China (and I got to run a race on The Great Wall to celebrate the 11th anniversary of my 29th birthday!) The weather was fantastic and we are grateful for the health and opportunity to experience it. I like the Chinese consistent wishes for happiness, longevity and prosperity. While they seem pushy and loud they also seem really happy (I also get why we see some many Chinese everywhere in the world there is just a lot of them. With a population of 1.4 B and an estimated the world population of 7 B (give or take a few million) China makes up 20% of the World's people add India to China's population and you get 40%.)
Now it's home to start riding (thanks Austin for keeping my donkey going for me) as horse show season is here (yay!). And collect my dogs from Doggie Disneyland (thanks Mom & Dad for keeping them for us).
Until next time,